Is it fair to boycott Direct to OTT releases?
Rhea Srivastava -
A lockdown restriction amidst the coronavirus pandemic that has been lifted is the reopening of cinemas and multiplexes across the country. This will be happening with the necessary precautions, of course, but for film fans, the real news is the titles that would be available to watch for the next few months at your nearby cinema.
Well, there’s good news and bad news. The films that are set to release at cinemas include late Sushant Singh Rajput’s Kedarnath opposite Sara Ali Khan, Ajay Devgn’s period drama Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior, romantic comedy Shubh mangal Zyada Saavdhan with Ayushmann Khurrana and Jitendra Kumar, Taapsee Pannu’s Thappad, and Aditya Roy Kapur’s revenge thriller Malang. Some theatres will also play Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff-starrer action drama War. The news itself was revealed by trade analyst Taran Adarsh, who in a series of tweets also mentioned that the list of titles that would be available for a re-watch in cinemas would keep growing and released in the days to come.
Unfortunately, though, fans will still have to wait for Ranveer Singh’s ‘83,’ a sports drama based on the historic Cricket World Cup win for the men in blue in 1983; and Akshay Kumar-starrer Sooryavanshi which makes up the trinity of Rohit Shetty’s supercop-verse. 83 is set to release around Christmas, while Sooryavanshi has been pushed to the first quarter of 2021. These will still be some of the first few new releases to hit screens post the lockdown.
This is a major respite not just for audiences who love and miss the theatre-going experience, but cinema chains and theatre owners who have been facing severe setbacks and losses all these months. In a unanimous decision, leading multiplex chains like PVR, Inox, Carnival, and Cinepolis have decided not to screen any major title that opted for a direct-to-OTT release over the course of the year. This includes Hindi titles like Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Gulabo Sitabo, Vidya Balan-starrer Shakuntala Devi, Varun Dhawan and Sara Ali Khan’s remake of Coolie No. 1, Rajkummar Rao’s Chhalaang, Bhumi Pednekar-starrer Durgavati, and the entire roster of Disney+ Hotstar’s multiplex bouquet of Dil Bechara, Bhuj: The Pride of India, Sadak 2, The Big Bull, Laxmmi Bomb, Lootcase, and Khuda Haafiz. Tamil films like Ponmangal Vandhal with Jyothika, Penguin, Suriya-starrer Soorarai Pottru, and Madhavan’s Maara also won’t be released in theatres, amongst a spat of smaller and mid-level players.
Cinemas officially reopen on October 15 in most major markets, seven months after the imposed national lockdown. Cinemas will have to maintain one seat distance, 50 per cent capacity, mandatory masks, proper ventilation, and regulated air conditioning as per govt. Rules.
The question is are theatre owners doing the right thing by boycotting Direct OTT releases?